Economic Report: Jobless claims drop 4,000 to 218,000

Want to know why layoffs in the U.S. are so low? Job openings are at a record high.

The numbers: The rate of layoffs nationwide fell for the third straight week, indicating no deterioration in a rock-solid labor U.S. market in which work is easy to find.

New jobless claims dropped by 4,000 to 218,000 in the seven days ended June 9, the government said Thursday. Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast a 222,000 reading.

The more stable monthly average of new claims dipped by 1,250 to 224,250.

What happened: The number of people being laid off each week has been tumbling for years, falling to levels last seen in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Continuing claims, for example, fell by 49,000 to 1.69 million in early June to touch the lowest level since the end of 1973. These claims represent how many people are already collecting unemployment benefits.

Big picture: Still the same. The U.S. jobs market hasn’t been this good in decades. More people are entering or reentering the labor force in search of work with job openings at a record high.

Strong job gains and the lowest jobless rate in 18 years has fueled sales of new homes, autos and other goods and services, keeping the economy on track to set a record for the longest expansion ever. The current growth phase just turned nine years old.

Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.47% and the S&P 500 SPX, -0.40% were set to open slightly higher in Thursday trades. The 10-year Treasury yield TMUBMUSD10Y, -0.99%   fell slightly to 2.95%.

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